"I hate to lose Oregon County," Cookson said in a telephone interview Dec. 22. "I made a lot of friends there."
Following state redistricting maps, Oregon County, along with Shannon and Dent counties, are now part of new District 143, and will be represented by Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, a six-year House veteran in a leadership position.
Cookson was elected to his first two-year term in November 2010. He lives on a cattle farm and is a retired educator, having taught and coached in Ripley, Carter and Wright Counties from 1994-2001. He was the superintendent of Ripley County Schools from 2001-10.
Cookson said state representatives had no input in the redistricting, which was decided by a panel of six judges. Following population increases revealed by the 2010 census, each representative had to gain about 2,000 residents, he said.
"It's like a big puzzle," Cookson said of the redistricting map.
Smith currently represents parts of Crawford, Dent, Phelps and Reynolds Counties (District 150) in the Missouri House.
Elected to the House in a special election in 2005, Smith serves as Majority Whip and is a member of the following committees: Administration and Accounts, Ethics, Professional Registration & Licensing, and the Special Standing Committee on Redistricting. He also serves on the Joint Committees on Court Automation and Legislative Research and as co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
Rep. Paul Fitzwater of Shannon County picked up the northern three-quarters of Wayne County, originally represented by Cookson, and will lose Shannon County.
A large part of Cookson's shift has gone to northern Butler County and Wayne County, including parts of Poplar Bluff.
Cookson said he will be on the November 2012 ballot to represent his new territory (District 153).
According to his biography on the House's online site, Smith is committed to community involvement and is a member in the following organizations: National Rifle Association; Salem, Steelville and Cuba chambers of commerce; Missouri Bar; Farm Bureau; state board member of the Missouri Community Betterment Association; past president and current board member of the Salem FFA Alumni Association; and past board member of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). He attends Grace Community Church of Salem, and serves as a youth Sunday school teacher.
Smith graduated from Salem High School in 1998. He earned two bachelor of science degrees in agricultural economics and business administration from the University of Missouri. In 2001, he enrolled in Oklahoma City University School of Law where he earned his Law Degree. He spent a summer studying international law at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, and came back to graduate in 2004.
Besides being one of Missouri's youngest representatives, Smith works as an attorney, real estate agent and small business owner. He also manages his fourth-generation family farm.
Smith was unable to be reached by telephone over the Christmas holiday. His current bill sponsorship includes a rewrite of the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Bill.